Changing how an ecommerce business views debt to grow
Michael Corbishley and his wife began their journey as Amazon sellers in 2014 in an attempt to create multiple streams of income, on top of their full time jobs. In 2017 they trademarked and launched the brand that they continue to sell under today in the Toys and Games categories.
Like many sellers, they found their side hustle on Amazon to be incredibly lucrative, and shortly after trademarking they were able to make selling on Amazon their full-time focus.
Finding the capital to grow
Throughout his entire life, Michael had negative associations with any debt. “I had this frame of mind that you never want to take on any type of debt, debt is so, so bad and it needs to be avoided at all costs,” so he and his wife spent the first four years building their business entirely by “bootstrapping everything, we tried to pay only in cash as much as we could.”
After growing their business as far as they could on bootstrapping, Michael and his wife found themselves struggling to keep inventory stocked and having to remove products that weren’t selling as well.
Their budget was so tight that they could only keep the top-performing products stocked and advertising felt counterintuitive when they couldn’t guarantee the products would be fully stocked. “I had put such a limitation on ourselves before. For me it was ‘Let’s find the low-hanging fruit’ and the low-hanging fruit was just restocking items that we knew would sell.”
In addition to struggles with capital, Michael found that forecasting and logistics are critical for Amazon sellers. “It’s complicated. There are all of these intertwined parts. There’s marketing, there’s finance, there’s logistics, and if any of them aren’t optimized correctly your business suffers.”
In college, Michael studied business marketing which helped him to understand the sales and listing aspects of their business, but “there are plenty of aspects that I just had a lot of naivete toward,” he shared. “One of them was business finance.”
Michael’s Amazon store needed an increase in cash flow to keep growing and better views of money movement to make data-driven decisions.
Alternative funding and partnerships
Michael and his wife found Viably through their mentor, Tomer Rabinovich, who encouraged them to look into different funding opportunities. Viably already had a sense of credibility for Michael because it was backed by Tomer, but he found a lot to appreciate about the company in addition to that.
“One of the things that stood out to me about Viably was that they were specifically looking for U.S. sellers. It wasn’t this big company where I would be one of thousands. While there are a lot of options, quite honestly I kind of felt like this would be a good opportunity to get in with a company that’s really starting to find their footing.”
By supplementing the profits they’re reinvesting into the business with capital from Viably, Michael and his wife have been able to grow their business. Not only did Michael feel confident and trusting of the company though, he also found Viably’s tools and resources to be incredibly helpful to his business.
“I love the interface of the platform. I love that you get a business bank account and a business debit card that you can use. I think that all of that is unique in the industry and there are real advantages to having that,” he reflected.
And most importantly, Michael shared how much support and confidence he felt from the Viably team, “What I really like about Viably is they look at the business, where everything is Viably isn’t lending money unless there is a high degree of confidence that it’s gonna be coming back. And that’s a really eye-opening process.”
Unlike a typical bank, Viably has taken the time to understand and specialize in the challenges facing ecommerce businesses and Amazon Sellers. When it comes to connecting with sellers like Michael, that makes all the difference, “If you’re just going through a bank or some other kind of lender they aren’t doing their due diligence, sorting through the debits and credits in your bank account. Viably is. They understand ecommerce, and even more so they understand Amazon, and that’s really, really important.”
Capital to grow profit margins and drive new sales
Michael and his wife have continued to grow their Amazon store, now with the necessary capital to truly expand. Since partnering with Viably they’ve extended their catalog, been able to purchase inventory in larger increments, and truly invest in marketing for their business.
“We’re up 30% from last year and I directly attribute that to the work we’ve been able to do with Viably,” Michael said. “We’re able to buy more which lowers our cost and increases our profitability. It’s not just that our sales are increasing, but because now we’re able to buy more it actually lowers our costs and increases our margins, thanks to Viably.”
Michael and his wife started their Amazon selling business with money they had saved. Today their business continues to scale, and they hope that it can eventually be sold for a 7-figure exit one day. Until then, Michael shared that their next goal is to “hit $90,000 – $100,000 in sales every month, consistently. Eventually, we would like to hit six figures in sales every month through all four quarters.”
With Viably, Michael and his wife can focus on growing their business rather than just maintaining where they were at– bringing them that much closer to their goals for the future without their previous fear of debt.
“The biggest epiphany I had is really that capital does not have to be a limitation on the business.” By accessing the funds that they needed to grow their business upfront, Michael and his wife could place less pressure on keeping a tight budget and focus more on opportunities for scaling up.
Specifically, Michael and his wife have been able to grow their catalog significantly, something “I would never really have thought was possible until working with Viably to help provide the funding to do that.”